The YKK Widnes Wild returned back to Planet Ice Blackburn on Saturday night, taking a 10-3 loss to the hosts. The Hawks came into the game with a 10 game winning streak, featuring a 21-6 aggregate win in the Moralee cup final over league leaders Billingham Stars the weekend prior. Meanwhile, Widnes were looking to bounce back after 3 consecutive defeats but fell short to local rivals.


Widnes travelled with a short bench of 14+2, still missing forwards Kyle Carruth, Rhys Edwards and Flynn Massie. Additionally, defencemen Bez Hughes and Tom Jackson sat on the sidelines due to injuries. However, the squad was boosted by the return of Scottish forward Gregor Donaldson and Logan Reid who was given his 1st senior start.


The Hawks lined up with a total of 17+2, however Latvian import Devids Jurinenoks was unavailable due to a check to the head 6-game ban. Oliver Thomasson was given the start between the pipes after Keddie iced for both games the previous weekend.


Wild were eager to go on the attack from the initial face-off and fired early shots on Thomasson. However, it was Blackburn who found the back of the net first. #88 Adam Barnes launched the puck wide of Reid’s catcher at 5:46, after a breakaway assisted by #80 Bobby Streetly. The Hawks carried forward their momentum and doubled their lead to 2-0 through #9 Matty Cross, with Streetly picking up another assist, after going 5-hole on Reid at 7:57.


Blackburn’s #10 Josh Crawley picked up the 1st penalty of the game at 9:33 for high sticks, putting Widnes on a powerplay. The Wild were then called during the advantage for a ‘too many men call’ at 10:48, leaving them with a 1:14 PK. Hawk’s captain #8 Aaron Davies tapped the puck home after a scramble in the crease at 12:39, assisted by #9 Matty Cross.


A strike from #10 Josh Crawley through #37 Ronnie Grimes extended the lead to 4 for Blackburn at 15:59. Widnes were handed an opportunity at 16:36 after #11 Luke Watson sat 2 minutes for hooking. However, a strong unit for Hawks prevented Wild reducing the deficit before the 1st period break.


Blackburn were then struck with another penalty in the early moments of the middle frame as #9 Matty Cross headed to the box for tripping at 21:35. Less than a minute later, forward #39 Matty Barlow clawed a goal back after firing low past Thomasson, assisted by #16 Mikey Gilbert at 22:12.


Just as they returned back to full strength, #70 Lee Pollitt received an interference call at 22:39 giving Widnes another opportunity. Despite having 4 players on the ice, #8 Aaron Davies bagged his 2nd of the game after the puck deflected off Reid’s stick to go past the line at 23:49, assisted by #66 James Royds.

Wild’s #91 Gregor Donaldson then fought back for his side, grabbing his 1st goal in a Widnes jersey, with a strike from point after a pass from player-coach #63 Joey Coulter at 25:57 posting the score at 5-2. However, #88 Barnes reclaimed the 4 goal buffer back for Blackburn, going 5-hole on Reid, assisted by #66 Royds at 28:00.


Widnes goal-scorer #91 Donaldson then picked up a tripping penalty at 33:13, leaving Wild a player short momentarily. Hawks captain #8 Aaron Davies claimed his hat-trick goal with a tap in via #10 Josh Crawley after chaos in the Wild crease.


2 further goals in quick succession for Blackburn through #15 Charles Phillips and top points scorer #28 James Riddoch left Wild with a hefty 7 goal deficit looking ahead to the final frame.


Widnes then opted for a change of netminder, seeing new regular #30 Phil Pearson guard the pipes for the final 20 minutes. Blackburn looked to catch Pearson out cold, but he held on to every shot that came his way. However, a shot from #98 Sam Warnock straight after the face-off trickled past Pearson at 43:00, assisted by #37 Ronnie Grimes to make it double figures for Blackburn.


Wild’s #39 Matty Barlow claimed his 2nd goal of the game just 53 seconds after the Hawks goal through a cross-ice pass from #10 Nathan Britton, posting the score at 10-3.

Tensions then spilled over after the whistle at 44:45 between several players, following a collision between former Widnes D-man #19 Calum Ruddick and #61 Bailey Thomson during play. Wild were then left on the penalty kill, after Thomson sat 2+2 for roughing with an additional 10 min misconduct, whilst Ruddick sat a 2minute minor also for roughing.


Both sides failed to find form after the commotion and took several minutes to regain momentum. However, Blackburn remained relentless rifling shots on Pearson in the Widnes net. Widnes made a last attempt to reduce the deficit, but Thomasson held strong for his side, finishing the game with a 10-3 win to Blackburn.


MVPs were awarded to 16yr old Scottish forward Gregor Donaldson after scoring his 1st goal for Widnes. Meanwhile defenceman Sam Warnock earned the award for Blackburn.


Officials: Truswell, Fielden, MacKinnon


STATS – (4-0) (5-2) (1-1)


Blackburn Hawks: Aaron Davies 3+0, Adam Barnes 2+1, Matty Cross 1+1, Josh Crawley 1+1, Charles Phillips 1+0, James Riddoch 1+0, Sam Warnock 1+0, Bobby Streetly 0+3, James Royds 0+2, Ronnie Grimes 0+2, Ethan Mayoh 0+1, Malachi Budd 0+1


Oliver Thomasson – (7/9/3) 19 shots


Widnes Wild: Matty Barlow 2+0, Gregor Donaldson 1+0, Mikey Gilbert 0+1, Joey Coulter 0+1, Nathan Britton 0+1


Logan Reid – (12/18/0) 30 shots Phil Pearson – (0/0/13) 13 shots


Article written by Fleur Tobin